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Making CPAN ratings easy (was Re: CPAN Ratings and the problem ofchoice)

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Paul Fenwick
June 30, 2008 17:18
Making CPAN ratings easy (was Re: CPAN Ratings and the problem ofchoice)
Message ID:
[ CC'ed to rethinking-cpan, since I assume it's halfway relevant.  If not, 
let me know, and I'll get out of your face. ]

Greg Sabino Mullane wrote:

> Why are people not rating modules?

Because rating modules is a monumental pain in the arse.

== The CPAN Ratings Way ==

Let's pretend you're J. Average Hacker.  You've popped over to CPAN because 
it provides a nice way of reading the documentation on a module you've just 
started using, let's say Moose.  Here's the webpage you see:

Notice the complete lack of any indication that there may be ratings 
associated with the module.   I can see where to download it, find 
dependencies, annotate the POD, and review/report bugs.  They're all in the 
top-right corner.  However there's not even a *hint* that there may be ratings.

To find those ratings, I need to navigate up to the distribution level. 
Already, we've lost most of our audience.  Why would you *ever* want to 
navigate to the distribution[1]?  That's for module authors, right?

If we finally get to the distribution level, ah, there's a rating!  Moose is 
looking pretty good with 5 reviews and 5 stars.  Reading those reviews is 
easy enough, although now I'm far far away from where I started.  And if I 
want to add a review of Moose?

	"Continue to the Bitcard service to login.  It will send you
	back here when you are done registering and logging in."

What?  I need to make an account on a THIRD website[2]?  Screw that, I'm 
going to play Frozen Bubble.

Even if you *do* get an account, and login, and remember which module you 
were reviewing, you're then faced with the requirement that you have to 
write a *review*.  I need to rate documentation, interface, ease of use, 
overall, AND A REVIEW!  I can't just give it five stars, I have to think 
about all these other things, and write TEXT that will have my name against 
it.  I suck at writing text.

So, unless you happen to already have a huge amount of knowledge about how 
the CPAN works, and CPAN Ratings, and are prepared to spend quite some time 
writing a review, they just don't happen.

== The Flickr Way ==

Let's compare this with flickr.

There's a button marked favourite.  It looks like a star.  I press it.

== Thoughts ==

The flickr way doesn't give us back as much useful information as a full 
review, but it has two enormous advantages:

	* It's incredibly quick, which means people use it.
	* It's actually useful to the "reviewer", which means people use it.

There are thousands of pictures out there, just like there are thousands of 
CPAN modules.  I'd love way to have a way I can mark my favourites, because 
then I can find them again later on.  If you're J. Average Hacker, finding 
your favourite modules is useful!

The number of favourites will usually have a positive correlation with 
module popularity, which in turn tends to have a positive correlation with 
module quality.  This means it's really useful to show with, and contribute 
to the ordering of, results.  That in turn solves the 
problem of choice overload, which is the biggest complaint I hear about the 

Just have it so that marking something as a favourite is easy.  As easy as 
clicking on a star on the module page (not the distribution page).



[1] Yes, I know why *you* would want to go to the dist page, but you're 
J.A.Hacker here, who has lived their entire life being completely ignorant 
of the dist level.

Paul Fenwick <> |
Director of Training                   | Ph:  +61 3 9354 6001
Perl Training Australia                | Fax: +61 3 9354 2681

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